Kenyatta Hospital -A Hospital You Would Never Wish To Be Admitted In As A Patient.

Posted on May 26, 2009. Filed under: 1 |

By Amos Kareithi

The stories of patients queuing overnight for treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) illustrate the woes of seeking attention at the country’s biggest health facility.

Phyllis Kageni’s quest for medical attention at KNH started at 9am last Saturday but one when she arrived from Chogoria Mission Hospital, Meru.

Ms Mary Karimi, has daughter says.

“We first went to the Doctor’s Plaza (the private wing) but were referred here at around 10 am. Since then, we have been waiting,”

It surely a long wait for Kageni, who was finally seen by a doctor at 5 pm, eight hours after landing at the casualty department.

Kageni’s neighbour, Ms Wairimu Njoroge, is lying at the waiting bay. Her eyes are squeezed tight and her hands are holding her head.

Wairimu, too, has been marking time at the casualty department, rolling on the seats, when there is space.

Her husband, Mr Apollo Njoroge, explains, “She is suffering from menengitis. She had been treated at a private hospital but came here when her condition worsened.”

Njoroge, too, has to wait for more than eight hours for the hospital to admit his wife, who has been pleading with medics to give her something to relieve a splitting headache.

The couple, like hundreds of other patients, have not had lunch. There is one canteen at the hospital that only sells soda, biscuits, bread and fruits

Just when Njoroge’s other relatives finally reach the customer care desk at 9pm, an emergency erupts.

Their files are almost ready. All the money has been paid but there is no porter to carry the file and direct the patients to ward 7, where they are destined.

The half-hearted search for the missing porters ensues. Tempers flare and a clinical officer defends his colleagues from accusations of unnecessarily delaying patients’ admission.

Accident victims

Before the porters are traced, ambulance sirens blare and two vehicles screech to a stop at the entrance of the Casualty Ward, and bleeding accident victims are wheeled out.

The Mother Superior who has been manning the customer care desk struggles to wear latex gloves.

It will be two hours later when Njoroge and his group are attended to.

In the meantime, desperate relatives plead with hospital staff to intervene.

The Standard calls the head of department, Dr P Lubanga, at 9.50 pm in a bid to ease the suffering and delay. His telephone number is prominently displayed at the notice board.

“Yes I am the chairman. I am sorry I cannot assist you I am on leave,” he says.

As more accident victims are brought in, stretchers are not enough.

One man as a drip stand, holding the bottle of water above his head to ensure it trickles down to his injured relative.

Such is the confusion and lethargy that when Kageni, is finally wheeled into Ward 7, her daughter pleads to be spared the agony of waiting any more.

“Please you have all her literature from Chogoria. Let us go home and give you the details you want tomorrow,” Karimi pleads.

By then Karimi is not sure where she is going to spend the night as it is past midnight.

After witnessing the suffering of patients at the casualty department for more than six hours, a colleague, Mr Robin Toskin, who has come to see a friend, can take it no more.

At one point, he holds a drip for nearly an hour as there are no hook stands.

More than ten hours after they first set foot at Kenyatta, the biggest referral hospital in the country and region, many patients at the casualty section were yet to be attended to.

No response

The KNH on Monday declined to respond to our enquiries on what ails the hospital.

Chief Public Relations Officer Simon Ithae through whom questions for Chief Executive JN Micheni were sent, demanded to know why the information was being sought and the kind of story it was intended for.

“What is the purpose of this?” was the terse question Mr Ithae added when the questions were sent to him. When he was told it, was for a story detailing the hospitals capacity, strengths and weaknesses and measurers to improve service delivery, the public relations officer declined to offer a response.

However, Medical Services PS James ole Kiyiapi had earlier said Government has embarked on an ambitious multi-million plan to expand and rehabilitate hospitals.

The Government has identified 42 hospitals, which in collaboration with donors will be upgraded to boost service provision, Prof Kiyiapi said.

“There is an increase in the population visiting public hospitals, but there will a big change in these hospitals,” said Kiyiapi, speaking to The Standard from Geneva where, together with Public Health Minister Beth Mugo, he was meeting Global Fund managers.

Kiyiapi said every financial year about 40 to 50 hospitals will be targeting for improvement.

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